The firefighter who led the initial response to the Grenfell fire said he could not remember receiving training about when to order the evacuation of a tower block.

Michael Dowden was asked at the Grenfell inquiry about the policy of advising people to stay put in a fire.

He said he had received no training on how to reconsider advice given to residents when a fire worsens.

Victims’ families criticised the stay-put advice given to residents.

Most high-rise towers are designed so fires can be contained in the flats where they start, but this did not happen at Grenfell Tower, where 72 people were killed last June.

One expert has said the fire service should have abandoned its advice to residents to stay in their flats much earlier than it did.

Counsel for the inquiry Richard Millett said according to policy, incident commanders “should understand” when an evacuation would be necessary and asked Mr Dowden what training he had for that situation.

After a 17-second pause, Mr Dowden said: “I can’t remember any time when I’d actually been on a training course that would facilitate that.”

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He said it was “very difficult” to rehearse high-rise fire responses and the advice to residents was “borne out of the way a building should behave in a fire”.

Mr Dowden, who has been watch manager of North Kensington red watch since February 2015, was the first incident commander on the scene when the Grenfell inferno began.

He said he had not realised the tower’s exterior cladding, which was the “primary cause” of the fire’s spread, could act in such a way.

Mr Dowden was also asked about a familiarisation visit he and his crew made to Grenfell Tower in February 2016.

He said he did not familiarise himself with the tower’s construction, escape routes, sprinklers, radio blackspots or vulnerability of residents.

Mr Dowden was also asked if he looked at the cladding.

“That’s something I didn’t look at,” he said, but he added: “Knowing what I know now, that is certainly something I would look at.”

According to London Fire Brigade’s cataloguing system, Grenfell Tower was ranked as medium to low fire risk, meaning it should be visited every three years.

Mr Dowden said normally there would be extra documentation on the brigade’s database, for example floor plans and dimension, but “for whatever reason that hasn’t been done” in Grenfell’s case.